Coraline (2009)

You are NOT my mother.

— Coraline Jones

Coraline was on my radar to see since it was released in February of 2009. People were talking about how wonderful this adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s book was. It was my intention to see it, but never got around to it. When it was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars, it was on the fast track of my viewing schedule. I’m glad that I saw it. I wish I saw it in 3D.

Director Henry Selick of The Nightmare before Christmas fame forgoes the staple of computer animation to the painstakingly slow process of stop motion animation. This movie is like a twisted version of Alice in Wonderland where a family moves from Michigan into the Pink Palace apartments, which is a Victorian house in the middle of nowhere.

A precocious little girl named Coraline Jones (Dakota Fanning) is trying to fight for the attention of her parents, Mel and Charlie (Teri Hatcher, John Hodgman) who are too busy finishing up the work on a gardening catalogue. Coraline explores the surroundings and meets up with a peculiar kid named Wybie (Robert Bailey Jr.) who may or may not be a stalker. There is also a feral cat (Keith David) that is following her as well.

Feeling bored, Coraline looks through the house finds a small door hidden behind a covering of wallpaper in the living room. She wants to know what is behind the door. When the door is opened by her mother, it is bricked up.

That night, Coraline is awakened by a jumping mouse that leads her to the very same door that opens up to a parallel universe where everything is the complete opposite. Her “other mother” cooks her favorite meals and the other father is very attentive and could play the piano. The trouble is that they have black buttons for eyes in this other world. She starts to warm up to this world.

She wakes up back to her normal life. She befriends the other inhabitants on the other apartments like the Russian circus performer, The Amazing Bobinsky (Ian McShane) who tells Coraline not to go into the little door again. His own jumping mice told him so. The old vaudeville duo, April and Miriam (Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French) have her over for tea. Reading her tea leaves, they also warn her that she is in great danger.

She ignores their incessant warnings and travels to the other world again, because she is so unhappy with her mundane existence. Her other mother makes a proposition for her. Since she loves this other life so much, she should stay. The catch is that sews has to sew the black buttons on her eyes. She is resistant about it, but the other mother is not happy with it and she becomes less than motherly.

It is so freaky that this movie was made in stop motion. It was a mice change of pace for the typical kid friendly movie. The story was not groundbreaking, but enjoyable nonetheless. It was a good time spent.

Judgment: It makes me wonder what Henry Selick will do next.

Rating: ***1/2

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About Branden

Branden: I am just your average movie nut that reviews films. Gives his take on pop culture and Hollywood happenings. Dreams to have his own thriving website and make a living doing what he is passionate about.

Posted on June 22, 2010, in 2009, Academy Award Nominee, Adventure, Animated, Fantasy and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Selick’s next picture is at Pixar and that’s about all I know. Exciting prospect.

  2. Glad you got around to reviewing this. I’ve always seen it just as much as a Neil Gaiman film as Henry Selick’s. The two of them fit nicely together. What was most important was that it worked without the 3D – which was admittedly not all that strong to begin with if you ask me.

    Who knew Teri Hatcher could work on a worthwhile project anymore?

  1. Pingback: How do I get the coraline self portrait thingy off my myspace? | Custom oil painting

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